In the evolving landscape of the post-pandemic workplace, less than 20% of employees desire to return to the office full-time without the provision of flexible scheduling. The majority of the workforce now craves the option to divide their workweek between remote and in-office work, striking a healthier work-life equilibrium. Companies that fail to offer such flexibility may face challenges in retaining their current talent and attracting potential candidates for future vacancies.
The contemporary work environment is in a state of constant flux, shaped by factors ranging from variant outbreaks and self-quarantine mandates to the advent of new software enhancing digital capabilities. Employers must consciously cultivate workplace flexibility to be prepared for scenarios that challenge the traditional office culture.
This guide explores how employers can prioritize and optimize employee flexibility, thereby integrating flexible work arrangements into their company culture.
The Advantages of Workplace Flexibility
A flexible workplace offers numerous benefits for both the employer and the employees. Here are some ways your business can profit from fostering employee flexibility:
- Potential to transition to a smaller office space for cost savings
- Enhanced employee engagement
- Boosted morale and productivity
- Improved employee retention
- Increased job satisfaction for existing employees
- Heightened interest from job seekers
- Preparedness for future emergency circumstances requiring remote workers (e.g., pandemics or natural disasters)
Hybrid workplace models can provide a blueprint to guide your business in making alterations to the workplace arrangement. It is advisable to involve team members in the decision to implement employee flexibility. This allows them to suggest the flexible options they would prefer, ensuring that your employees’ needs are met before you make the transition.
Six Strategies to Implement Employee Flexibility
The implementation of employee flexibility does not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Businesses have unique needs to consider when introducing flexible options for employees. A healthcare clinic will have different work schedule requirements compared to an investment bank that requires secure access to low-latency networks and powerful systems. Before you transition to a hybrid workplace arrangement, contemplate what will work best for your business.
Here are six strategies to accommodate employee flexibility and optimize your business for the new normal.
1. Experiment with Flexible Work Hours
Eliminating strict rules surrounding arrival and departure times provides employee flexibility without necessitating a dramatic change. It allows employees to attend to personal needs and family obligations, demonstrating that your company culture is embracing a more flexible mindset.
Here are a few ways you might handle this:
- Hours worked: Replace specific work hours with general office hours that allow employees to arrive and depart at times that work for them. Your employees would simply need to work their required number of hours, and they could do that however they’d like.
- Deadlines and goals: Shift to a deadline-oriented company culture and eliminate requirements for hours worked. As long as employees meet their deadlines, they can come and go on their own schedule.
Implementing flexible work hours shows that your company values employee flexibility without requiring you to make a full shift to a hybrid workplace. You can use it on its own or in conjunction with other strategies. Additionally, you could require employees to schedule their custom work hours ahead of time to keep collaborative work running smoothly.
2. Introduce Flex Days
Many employers opt to add flex days or flex time to employee schedules every week or every other week. For example, you might pick a specific day of the week — Friday is typical — on which employees are allowed to work remotely instead of coming into the office.
Another option is providing a certain number of hours per week or month as flex time, which employees can use to work from home. Both methods of offering schedule flexibility can be enticing to job seekers and make existing employees feel valued.
3. Transition to a Four-Day Workweek
Some companies prefer to shift their schedule to a four-day workweek instead of providing flex time. Ideally, this moves your employees over to a 32-hour week with no change in deadlines or productivity.
While this might sound challenging, employees often have plenty of idle time in the average office and can often handle the same amount of tasks with one fewer workday in the week. Moreover, having less time to complete their assignments can boost employees’ motivation and productivity.
The four-day workweek is already gaining popularity around the globe in a post-pandemic society. Japan has recommended four-day workweeks be adopted nationwide, and many U.S. companies have also jumped on board.
It can be helpful to run a trial period to get employees accustomed to the idea. And if it doesn’t work for your employees, you can find another way to add employee flexibility.
Another option is a compressed workweek, which condenses a traditional 40-hour schedule into four workdays instead of five. The most common way to schedule this is known as the 4×10 schedule, which consists of four 10-hour days per week. This can also work well with flexible work hours, allowing employees to choose when and how they clock their required time.
4. Facilitate Remote Work
Telecommuting has more than proven its worth as a viable work option. During the pandemic, it allowed employees to complete their tasks and meet deadlines while working remotely.
If you allow remote work options to the employees who prefer this work style, you can reduce the office space required to keep your business running. In turn, this decreases your real estate costs and improves your bottom line at the end of the year. The lowered costs mean that remote work can also help companies scale.
You might need to shift to a hybrid or hot desking workplace arrangement, allowing employees to come into the office when they need. Or you could support your remote workers through telecommuting, so they never need to come into the office.
To ensure your employees remain productive from their home offices, consider providing a stipend to help them get set up to work remotely — to cover things like technology or office supplies. If your employees have what they need from day one, the transition will be smoother. For example, providing ergonomic furniture can improve productivity and employee satisfaction.
Pro Tip: Ergonomic furniture in your on-site location provides the same benefits while making employees feel valued.
5. Implement Job Sharing
Job sharing involves two part-time co-workers sharing the same position and duties, splitting their workload between them. This can be beneficial for employees who are parents and caregivers, and it can reduce your employee turnover rates because those team members won’t come up against workplace and time restrictions.
Job sharing is also useful in challenging roles where shared knowledge is advantageous. It’s not something that you can force on your workers with good results, though — let your employees know that you’d like to explore job sharing and explain how it would work.
Then, invite them to explore how this would work in their own schedule and discuss their options with human resources when they’re ready. You may need to start with a pilot group of volunteers to observe and troubleshoot before rolling out this flexible option to everyone.
6. Offer Unlimited PTO and Sick Days
If you’re not up for shifting to a hybrid workforce, you can provide employee flexibility by reevaluating your paid time off (PTO) and sick day policies. Employee benefits often allow limited days away from the office, which can increase absenteeism and employee dissatisfaction.
You probably don’t need to worry about your team members abusing this policy. In fact, employees with unlimited PTO take fewer days off on average than those with limited PTO. But knowing theycan take time off when they need it will make your employees grateful to have this policy, and it’ll help your company attract top talent for future roles.
Finding Your Balance
Every business operates differently, so it’s crucial to find your balance with employee flexibility. Whether you implement several of these adjustments or just one, remember to communicate with your employees during the process.
Providing workplace flexibility can make your team members feel valued, save you money, and boost your business’s overall productivity. It’s hard to argue with a change that benefits everyone.
Whether your employees are working from home or on-site, consider introducing another change to improve your company culture: ergonomic office furniture. It can boost productivity and help your employees produce higher quality work. You can use our Design My Office feature for personalized recommendations for your commercial space and to make it easier to order home office equipment for your employees.